July 5, 2018
by Canadian Architect
Toronto’s largest circulating library re-opens today after a major renovation project. Diamond Schmitt Architects has revitalized the North York Central Library and reprogrammed space to support the delivery of new services to meet the changing needs and expectations of its users. The first phase of renewal comprises three floors of the seven-storey facility, which first opened in 1987.
The Revitalized North York Central Library. Photo courtesy of Diamond Schmitt Architects.
A new grand staircase greets visitors and frames the existing atrium to improve wayfinding and pedestrian circulation. A major feature is the reconstruction of the children’s department on the ground floor to create a transportation-themed KidsStop, a learning and early literacy centre with interactive and electronic learning stations with features for children with special needs.
The Creation Loft on the second floor includes a Digital Innovation Hub with 3D printing, plus sound and video recording studios and a Fabrication Studio with sewing equipment. “This represents a complete rethinking of how libraries can serve and bring diverse communities together,” said Gary McCluskie, Principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects. “Embracing digital technologies opens a new frontier of learning through content creation, which is a natural next step in the evolution of libraries.”
Throughout the building, the renovation brings more study space, light-filled reading lounges and public meeting rooms. The atrium is activated by the addition of reading space and counters that now line the perimeter on each level, effectively doubling the number of seats in the 168,000-square-foot facility. Glass balustrades and amphitheatre seating on widened staircases serve to both improve orientation and invite exploration deeper into the building.
“The transformation of this well-used community hub is fabulous,” said Vickery Bowles, City Librarian. “We are thrilled to offer these open, airy and welcoming spaces, stunning views, and new services that will enable Toronto Public Library to deliver modern and progressive library service to the residents of Toronto.”
Features to come in the next phase of the North York Central Library renewal include a multi-function space at the concourse level and expanded collaborative spaces and a local history room on the upper floors.